New Airline Agreements Keep the SAF Flowing

 - October 26, 2020, 3:15 PM

Alaska Airlines and Microsoft have entered into an arrangement that will see the Seattle-area software maker cover the CO2 emissions of its employee commercial travel with sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) credits purchased from SAF provider SkyNRG. The deal makes Microsoft one of the first companies to directly purchase SAF for such a purpose.

“We are excited to partner with Alaska Airlines to make business air travel a little greener by using [SAF] supplied by SkyNRG to reduce the carbon impact of the flights Microsoft employees fly most,” said Judson Althoff, executive v-p of Microsoft’s worldwide commercial business, which has aspirations to be carbon negative by 2030. “We hope this [SAF] model will be used by other companies as a way to reduce the environmental impact of their business travel.”

Microsoft has also joined Board Now, a coalition of companies whose aim is to accelerate the transition to sustainable air travel. Those organizations commit to reducing their carbon emissions generated by flying and contribute to the development of new SAF production capacity.

This latest agreement applies to Microsoft’s most frequent travel on Alaska Airlines routes between Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, and San Francisco International and Los Angeles International Airports. While it is unclear exactly what sort of commitment this represents in terms of volume (AIN’s inquiries to the companies were not answered by press time), the fuel purchased by Microsoft will be delivered by SkyNRG directly into Alaska Airlines’ fueling system.

“After a decade advancing [SAF], this partnership marks a significant milestone in the work to make SAF a commercially-viable aviation fuel alternative,” noted Brad Tilden, the airline’s CEO. “SAF enables us to fly cleaner and reduce our impact on the environment,” adding “we cannot do this alone, we must work together with other industries and business leaders like Microsoft and SkyNRG among others who are thinking big, to achieve our goals and grow the marketplace for SAF.”

In other SAF news, ANA has inked an agreement with Neste which represents the European fuel provider’s first supply of SAF to an Asian airline and will make ANA the first airline to use the renewable fuel blend on flights departing Japan.

“ANA takes pride in its leadership role and has been recognized as an industry leader in sustainability,” said Yutaka Ito, the airline’s executive v-p for procurement, adding that, despite the impact of the global Covid pandemic, the company remains committed to its green efforts. “We recognize preserving our environment requires that humanity work together to achieve a common goal, and we are proud to be doing our part to protect our shared home.”

Initial operations will begin this week with SAF-fueled flights from Tokyo’s Narita and Haneda International Airports. The delivery of the fuel was made possible through coordination between Neste and Japanese trading house Itochu Corp. The companies plan to extend the deal beyond 2023 with a multi-year agreement. Neste currently produces 100,000 tons of SAF a year. With the planned expansion of its facilities in Singapore and Rotterdam, that could increase to 1.5 million tons a year by 2023.